Understanding Migraines

10 Essential Migraine and Headache Terms

Teri Robert Oct 23rd, 2013 (updated Jun 16th, 2015)
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Abortive medications
Abortive medications

Abortive medications are medications that work in the brain to stop the Migrainous process and its symptoms. Triptans (Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, Amerge, Relpax, Axert, and Frova -- as well as Treximet, which is a combination of Imitrex and Naproxen Sodium) ergotamines (DHE-45 and Migranal), and Midrin equivalent medications are abortive medications.

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Aphasia
Aphasia

Aphasia loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend language. When discussing Migraine disease and other headache disorders, we generally see aphasia listed as a possible symptom of a Migraine attack. People often say they have trouble finding the right words during a Migraine attack. This can begin as early as the prodrome phase of an attack.

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Chronic Migraine
Chronic Migraine

Essentially, chronic Migraine (CM) is Migraines or headaches 15 or more days a month, at least of which are Migraines. This means that people with chronic Migraine have a Migraine or headache more often than not. A diagnosis of "chronic Migraine" does not replace the more standard diagnosis of which form of Migraine we have - Migraine without aura, Migraine with aura, basilar-type Migraine, etc.

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Comorbid
Comorbid

Comorbid means existing simultaneously with and usually independently of another medical condition. This means that a person can have two or more conditions at the same time, but none of them cause any of the others. When discussing Migraine disease and other headache disorders, we generally see comorbid in discussing medical conditions we have, as well as Migraines and headaches.

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Contraindication
Contraindication

A contraindication is a circumstance under which a medication or treatment should not be used or could be harmful.

Some examples:

  • Triptans such as Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, etc. are contraindicated for people who have had a heart attack.
  • Feverfew is contraindicated for women who are or could become pregnant because it can cause miscarriage.

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Medication overuse headache
Medication overuse headache

Medication overuse headache (MOH) is headache (not Migraine) caused by using acute medications including Migraine abortive medications and pain medications, prescription or over-the-counter too frequently. Most experts say that these medications are being overused if they’re used more than two or three days a week.

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Phonophobia
Phonophobia

Phonophobia is increased and often painful sensitivity to sound and is a very common symptom of a Migraine attack. You can read more about phonophobia and other symptoms of Migraine in Anatomy of a Migraine.

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Photophobia
Photophobia

Photophobia is increased and often painful sensitivity to light. Photophobia is a very common symptom of a Migraine attack. You can read more about photophobia and other symptoms of Migraine in Anatomy of a Migraine.

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Preventive medications
Preventive medications

Preventive medications are taken daily to reduce the frequency and severity of Migraine attacks and headaches. Most doctors recommend preventive medications if you average one Migraine a week or more. You can read more about preventive medications.

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Rescue medications
Rescue medications

Rescue Medications are used if abortive medications fail or can't be taken. Most rescue medications are pain medications. Other types of medications are also used to help get through a Migraine by reducing nausea and helping Migraineurs relax. They don't have the ability to abort a Migraine, but will hopefully mask the pain for a few hours while the Migraine runs its course.